Desktop application to interact with Bluefruit LE and other Bluetooth low energy devices on Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux.
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README.md

Adafruit Bluefruit LE Desktop Application

Desktop application to interact with Bluefruit LE and other Bluetooth low energy devices on Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux. Allows you to connect to a BLE device, view the services and characteristics, interact with a BLE UART, use a control pad, color picker, and view orientation from a BNO-055 sensor. Created using Electron and noble.

Adafruit Bluefruit LE Application

Note that this program is currently in beta and might have bugs or issues. Feel free to raise problems you find as new issues on this repository!

Installation

For ease of installation pre-built binary releases are available in the releases tab of this repository. Pick the right binary for your platform, Windows x64 (win32-x64), Mac OSX (darwin-x64), or Linux (linux-x64). See below for more detailed install instructions for each platform.

Windows

Bluetooth low energy support has typically been problematic on Windows because of a lack of APIs to access BLE devices. However the noble library added support for Windows by talking directly to a USB BLE device and working around the lack of BLE support in the OS. This means the Adafruit Bluefruit LE desktop app will only work with the following USB BLE adapters:

  • CSR8510 (USB VID 0x0a12, PID 0x0001)
    • This is the recommended adapter and the only one that has been tested.
  • BCM920702 Bluetooth 4.0 (USB VID 0x0a5c, PID of 0x21e8)

Unfortunately any other BLE adapter, including one that might be built in to your laptop or computer, will not work. You must be using one of the USB BLE adapters above.

You'll need to be running Windows 7 or greater to use the application. Note that only Windows 7 has been tested at the moment.

Once you have the USB BLE adapter you will need to use Zadig tool to configure the device to use a WinUSB driver (note that Windows won't be able to use the BLE adapter after making this change). To use Zadig tool download it, make sure your BLE adapter is plugged in, and run the program. Then select the Options -> List All Devices menu item:

Zadig step 1

Find the BLE adapter in the device drop down list, in this case a CSR8510, and then select a WinUSB driver in the combobox on the right side of the green arrow. Click the Replace Driver button like below:

Zadig step 2

Zadig tool will replace the driver for the device with a WinUSB driver. When it finishes you should see a successful install dialog like below:

Zadig step 3

You should now be ready to use the Bluefruit LE application. Download the latest win32-x64 release (sorry there is currently no 32-bit Windows binary available yet) of the application from the releases page. Unzip the archive and double click the able.exe inside to start the application.

Driver Uninstall

If you'd ever like to revert back to the normal driver for the BLE adapter you can use device manager to find the device, right click it and select 'Uninstall' like below:

Zadig uninstall

Be sure to check the 'Delete the driver software for this device.' option so the WinUSB driver is not installed again when the device is connected to the computer (don't worry this won't delete the WinUSB driver from Zadig tool, you can always use Zadig tool to setup the BLE adapter with WinUSB again).

Mac OSX

On Mac OSX you only need to ensure your device supports Bluetooth 4.0/low energy. Most MacBooks since ~2012 should have BLE support. Then download the latest darwin-x64 release of the application from the releases page. Unzip the archive and run the able application.

Linux

On Linux you need to meet the requirements for noble on Linux which include at least a Linux kernel version 3.6 or higher. In addition you'll want to ensure bluez is installed. On a Debian/Ubuntu system make sure the following packages are installed:

sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez-utils libbluetooth-dev libudev-dev

Or on a Fedora or other RPM-based system install these packages:

sudo yum install bluez bluez-libs

Then download the latest linux-x64 release of the application from the releases page. Unzip the archive, open a terminal, navigate to the location of the files and run the able application. Note that you should run the application as a root user using sudo:

sudo ./able

Also if you have multiple Bluetooth adapters the first one will be chosen (hci0). You can set an explicit BLE adapter by following the steps from the noble library to set the NOBLE_HCI_DEVICE_ID environment variable, like to use hci1:

sudo NOBLE_HCI_DEVICE_ID=1 ./able

Compiling From Source

To build the application from its source you will need to setup your machine to compile native node.js application code. Be warned that this is a somewhat involved process on platforms like Windows! If you just want to run the application grab one of the pre-built binaries from the releases.

First you will need node.js version 0.12.7 installed. Later versions might work but have not been tested. Node.js 4.0.0 is unfortunately not yet supported by many of the native dependencies.

First follow all of the steps for installing node-gyp to compile native modules for your platform. On Linux you'll need to install a compiler toolchain from your package manager. On Mac OSX you'll need to install the XCode command line tools. On Windows you'll need to install Visual Studio 2013 community edition, Python 2.7, and follow all of the steps to setup environment variables, etc. Do not move on until node-gyp has been installed!

Next clone the repository for this application to get the latest source code.

!! WINDOWS WARNING !!

On Windows there is an unfortunate problem with node.js and npm where dependency file paths can exceed the 255 character platform limits of Windows and fail to install. The issue has a long history but is unfortunately still a problem as of 2015. The best way to work around this issue is to install the source code into a subdirectory of the C:\ drive, like under C:\able. If you don't do this you will see cryptic errors with missing modules during packaging of the application.

!! WINDOWS WARNING !!

Now install gulp to run the build scripts for the source:

npm install -g gulp

Note on Ubuntu you probably need to use sudo when running npm install -g, see this issue. For other platforms like Mac OSX or Windows do not use sudo to run npm as root.

Install the dependencies for building the application by navigating to the folder with the source and running the npm install command:

npm install

Now you're ready to build the source using gulp commands. To build a complete package for your platform use the package command:

gulp package

This will install the application dependencies, compile any native node modules (being careful to ensure they are built to work with Electron), convert the application's React JSX code to javascript, and then package everything up with Electron. After the package command finishes there will be a zip file created for your platform, like able-darwin-x64-0.1.0-beta.zip for Mac OSX with version 0.1.0-beta of the code. There will also be a folder created like able-darwin-x64, and inside this folder is the contents of the zip file.

You can either run the packaged application code from the zip or folder above, or you can run the unpackaged application code with Electron manually. The unpackaged application code will reside in the app subfolder, and it contains the following folders:

  • assets - Binary assets for the application like icons, 3D models, etc.
  • css - Cascading style sheets used by Bootstrap & Bootswatch.
  • dist - ES6 and JSX source that has been 'compiled' to ES5 for Electron to run.
  • fonts - Fonts used by Bootstrap.
  • lib - Third party JavaScript libraries used by the application.

To run Electron against this app code you can use an Electron prebuilt binary that is installed with the application dependencies. From the application folder run:

./node_modules/.bin/electron app

Note that you must use the Electron version installed by the application. The native dependencies of the app are compiled against a specific Electron version and won't work with other versions!

Running Electron against the app code directly is useful if you're modifying the code. You can change the code and then run Electron with the app to test the changes without having to package all the code up again. However you will need to be careful that if you change any JavaScript source code in the src directory you use the gulp js-build command to 'compile' JSX and ES6 JavaScript code:

gulp js-build

After the js-build command runs it will drop the compiled JavaScript in the app/dist directory so you can run Electron against the app folder to see the changes.

If you are modifying the code you will want to be aware that the code in the src directory uses ES6 and the React framework. You will want to familiarize yourself with using React.